New Jersey criminal attorney and Assemblyman Jon Bramnick spoke to Atlantic City prosecutors last week, urging them to consider a lesser sentence for Shaneen Allen, a Pennsylvania mother of two facing a three-year prison sentence in New Jersey.
When Allen was pulled over in Atlantic City earlier this year, she told the officer she was carrying a legally registered gun. Allen was arrested because under NJ’s harsh gun laws she was illegally transporting the weapon. However, her gun permit was registered and completely legal in Pennsylvania – where she lives.
At a recent NJ Statehouse press conference, the assemblyman said that punishment may be too harsh for Allen’s mistake. “We know she made a mistake and she was technically in violation of a law of this state,” Bramnick said. “The question I raise – and I think many members of the legislature would agree with me – is this a case where a woman that has no criminal record (should) go to jail? I cannot find anyone in the legislature who believes this woman should go to jail. I am convinced that we will change the law.”
Bramnick supports a bill introduced by Assemblyman Ron Dancer several months ago that would provide exceptions to the mandatory sentencing requirements for certain gun offenses. The bill would give prosecutors flexibility, allowing them to use their discretion in cases like Allen’s, and giving defendants like her the opportunity to enter a pretrial intervention program in lieu of prison time.
“That is a common practice in the state,” Bramnick said of using prosecutorial discretion. “I am not here to tell the (Atlantic County, NJ) prosecutor what to do. I am simply saying that as Minority Leader, this was not my intent when we voted for a very strict handgun law.”
To show support for Bramnick and Dancer’s efforts, you can call your local legislators and urge them to pass bill A3608. If you’ve been affected by NJ’s harsh gun laws and you need an attorney, contact the office of Jon Bramnick today.